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National debt rose to $21.974T at the end of 2018

By Daniel Uria
National debt rose to $21.974T at the end of 2018
The U.S. national debt reached $21.974 trillion at the end of 2018, up $2 trillion since President Donald Trump entered office. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- At the close of 2018, the U.S. national debt was more than $2 trillion higher than when President Donald Trump took office, data released Thursday by the Treasury Department indicates.

The national debt reached $21.974 trillion as of Dec. 31. The increase in debt came a little more than a year after Trump signed a tax reform bill and a lower corporate tax rate lowered Treasury revenues.

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The Congressional Budget Office also reported that the federal budget deficit increased to $779 billion or 3.8 percent of gross domestic product in fiscal year 2018, up from 3.5 percent in 2017.

"As a result, debt held by the public increased to 78 percent of GDP at the end of 2018 -- about 2 percentage points higher than the amount in 2017 and the highest percentage since 1950," the CBO said.

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Council of Economic Advisers chairman Kevin Hassett said Thursday morning that Trump is "absolutely" concerned about the rising national debt, CNN reported.

"We can disagree about a lot of things but we can agree maybe now is the time to get serious about the deficit," he said.

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Hasset added the rising debt contributed to Trump's decision in October to call for each Cabinet agency to institute budget cuts of at least 5 percent for their departments in 2019.

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The rate of increase in the national debt, which was accelerated by stimulus measures passed by the Obama administration in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, began to flatten early on in Trump's presidency but increased after the passage of the 2017 tax bill.

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